The Seattle Seahawks entered this offseason with a top-10 offense, bringing nearly all of their expertise again for 2023. As a substitute of staying complacent, the Seahawks aggressively added extra playmakers to the unit. Seattle chosen broad receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and working again Zach Charbonnet within the first two rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Each gamers can present a significant enhance to a unit that was in any other case missing depth. Smith-Njigba, the group’s twentieth total choose, is bound to have a substantial position instantly. With him lining up between DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, do the Seahawks now have the very best receiver room within the NFL?
Did Including Jaxon Smith-Njigba Give the Seahawks the Finest WR Room?
Whereas the Miami Dolphins maintain the mantle of getting the very best two-man receiver tandem within the NFL with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, the Seahawks weren’t too far behind with Metcalf and Lockett. Metcalf has averaged over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns in his first 4 seasons, and Lockett has damaged the 1,000-yard and eight-score mark yearly since Metcalf joined the group.
The duo was already in competitors to be the second-best within the league, together with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith in Philadelphia, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in Tampa Bay, and Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins in Cincinnati. Of these groups, solely the Bengals have had a notable third playmaker to reinforce them, as Tyler Boyd has held down the slot place.
The Seahawks moved towards embracing a extra aggressive passing offense with their collection of Smith-Njigba. The previous Ohio State star was the most efficient participant on a Buckeyes roster that featured two instant NFL studs in Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. However he did it in another way, as he was used nearly completely within the slot. In 2021, JSN led the nation in yards per goal (14.2) and yards run per route (4.4), per Sports Info Solutions.
Sadly, a hamstring damage price him nearly all of the 2022 season, and he lastly received “100% healthy” shortly earlier than the NFL Mix. After taking part in within the slot nearly 89% of snaps, we by no means noticed his position broaden. Buckeyes offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson planned on Smith-Njigba seeing more time outside with Wilson and Olave gone, nevertheless it by no means turned a risk.
It might not matter that Smith-Njigba isn’t a confirmed, refined exterior receiver regardless of displaying wonderful route-running expertise, catch radius, and hand energy. If he stays within the slot, he’s possible the very best slot prospect to be drafted since Godwin.
That doesn’t imply he’s a lock to achieve Cooper Kupp’s peak, however few prospects have his stage of manufacturing and gained in such a dominant manner all through his profession.
Seattle might really feel extra snug utilizing Smith-Njigba and Lockett interchangeably. Final 12 months, Metcalf logged solely 11% of his snaps within the slot, and Lockett was there 24% of snaps. The offense not often used third receiver Marquise Goodwin, although he stepped up and performed nicely when Lockett was banged up.
Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron didn’t absolutely tip his plans for learn how to broaden the offense with out dropping their environment friendly working sport, however he did reward Smith-Njigba after the rookie minicamp. Waldron lauded JSN’s skill to “choose the offense up instantly” and his “pure really feel for the protection.” Neither of these issues is stunning primarily based on the movie.
Why Seattle’s WR Trio Is Particular
The most effective argument for why the Seahawks have the very best receiving room, particularly with their prime three stars, is how they complement one another.
Metcalf is without doubt one of the premier bully-ball receivers within the NFL, ranking tenth in air yards, second in red-zone targets, and fifteenth in receiving yards regardless of solely being forty seventh in yards after the catch. He’s a great route runner for somebody so cumbersome, however he wins in methods few others can.
Lockett is a a lot completely different WR regardless of additionally being a implausible deep risk. He’s lightning fast and quick, in a position to play inside or exterior, and is a extra bodily presence on soar balls than anybody would anticipate primarily based on his dimension. He has that canine in him, and defenses deal with him that manner.
His effectivity numbers are absurd. He’s fifth in goal separation regardless of defenders giving him the ninth-most common cushion off the road. Lockett was seventh in anticipated factors added, fifth in route win fee, and sixth in manufacturing per goal towards man protection.
Smith-Njigba isn’t a downfield burner, however the remainder of his sport is maximized to his skills. It’s not an accident or only a product of the system that he ripped off eight straight video games in 2021 with a minimum of 97 receiving yards. Quarterback Geno Smith is an analogous sort of passer as C.J. Stroud, so it gained’t be stunning if Smith additionally finds solace in counting on Smith-Njigba in high-pressure conditions.
The remainder of the Seahawks’ receiver depth chart isn’t spectacular. It’s not possible to say Dee Eskridge or Dareke Younger are property, so there are deeper receiving rooms that lack the top-end expertise that Seattle has. However no group has a greater prime trio of receivers, with the Bengals providing the closest competitors.